The End of Summer

posted in: Various Musings | 0

Summer is finally drawing to a close.  It’s always a bittersweet time for me.  In the summer, I have fewer responsibilities than during the rest of the school year.  Yes, I still teach, but it’s more laid back and there are fewer students (although the semester is condensed, so grading and class preparation are also condensed).  The semester is shorter, though, so I have a lot more free time before and after, and the dress code is more relaxed.  The feel is different too.  It’s light, fun, and free.

When May closed out, I had finished the seventh Nicki Sosebee book (Innocent Bystander) and had a couple of projects in mind, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.  I started writing Blind (Nicki #8) but knew I wasn’t going to finish it right away.  I know where Nicki’s story is heading in the next two to three books, but it gets fuzzier after that.  That’s a good thing, though, because until it’s in black and white, it’s not exact.  I might have a scene in my head for months and then when it finally hits the page, it’s not quite what I’d envisioned.  Trust me, though, when I say that’s not always bad.  In fact, I’d say ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s beneficial.  It’s probably because my subconscious has thought it through a lot more than my waking mind and it’s usually smarter! 🙂

I’d heard about BuNoWriMo and, quite honestly, I’d avoided WriMos for a long time.  If you don’t know what a WriMo is, it’s basically just a month where a writer commits to writing an entire book of at least fifty thousand words.  I’d avoided them thinking, “Well, I write 50K in a month all the time.  Why do I need an event to motivate me?”  But was I wrong!  I participated this time (in June) because a bestselling writer friend of mine invited me.  I’m glad I joined.  I had no idea how the camaraderie could spur me on.  I met a lot of great people, and we encouraged each other like you wouldn’t believe.  We also asked questions, shared stories, played around, and had fun.  I decided to write Everything But at the time (although I hadn’t chosen that title when I started) and the sense of fun I was having  permeated the first third of the book (I think—you’ll have to tell me if I’m off base).  A few of us continued working together through July while we finished up our projects.  I said initially, “Well, this’ll probably be closer to 60K.”  But I had to keep adding new word goals as I kept surpassing my last ones.  The book wound up being over 80K, double the size of its predecessor Tangled Web.

It was fun, though, and it was worth it.  I tried a lot of different things as a writer that I hadn’t done before.  I wrote not only from Erin’s point of view but Riley’s as well.  I enjoyed the hell out of that.  I didn’t think I would, but I did.  It was a hoot and a refreshing change of pace.  Riley’s complex (aren’t we all?), and that’s what I liked about him.  What you know right off the bat is that he’s a typical bad boy rock star, but you discover pretty quickly that he’s like a roasted marshmallow—black and crusty on the outside, but warm and melty on the inside.  I suspect most of you will fall in love with Riley like I have.

I had to do a lot of research for the book too…considering I’ve never had a penis (and probably never will), I had to ask my partner what sex felt like for him and he tried to explain it, but I wasn’t able to use much of his input when writing the book.  Try googling “what sex feels like for a man” and you’ll see my frustration!  Let’s just say I had to spend lots of long, hard hours (pardon the pun!) to find out how to get those scenes just right.  My first pass through the book, I’d just write something like “describe from Riley’s POV” along with main points I wanted to hit with the scene.  It wasn’t until heavy rewrite time that I pounded out those scenes.  Good news:  I’m happy with them and they pass the Jamison realism test.

A couple of other things to anticipate with Everything But…a LOT more sex, some funny sex, and some handcuffs.  That’s all I’ll say, but that’s because I’m a tease.  🙂  It’s a lot closer to erotica than I usually write, but I still don’t think you could call it that.

So, thanks to BuNoWriMo and all the fantastic friends I made there, I will also be—for the first time ever—participating in NaNoWriMo, the biggest, baddest WriMo out there (chances are you’ve heard of it).  While Quickies is slated to be released 11/30/12, it’s already half written, so I don’t know that I’ll be working on that one.  I’m sure I’ll be doing some polishing, but I don’t believe I’ll be investing all my writing time on that project then.  Maybe I’ll focus on Old House.

For now, though, it’s back to Nicki.  I’ve missed Nicki, as I know a lot of you have.  I can’t believe I took a two-book hiatus from her, and I’m sure she’s feeling neglected.  My hope, though, is that my break will reinvigorate the series (not that it was flailing).  I never, ever, ever want my writing to feel forced, flat, or boring.  That’s part of why I’m constantly reading.  Everything I read influences my writing, whether I realize it or not, and if I’m only reading my own stuff (or works in my genre), I imagine it would become like the Tudors of England…weak, pale, and unable to do much.  It’s best to breed outside one’s own family.  That’s part of the reason why I also try to read mostly outside my own genre.  I do read some romance and erotica from time to time (can’t help myself!), but I try to read a lot more stuff that’s not: I dig nonfiction if the topic is right, and I like a lot of thrillers, but my favorite authors are Toni Morrison (bet you figured that one out already) and John Grisham (but I love Dan Brown, Stephen King, and lots more like them), so I read a lot of books that are quite different from what I write.  That said, though, over the last year I did finally read the first Fifty Shades book (I had to join the conversation, for heaven’s sake), Jolyn Palliata’s A Modern Love Story, and a suh-weet novella called Beautiful Mess by Lucy V. Morgan, and I’m still reading a couple other books like them, but I have to take them in small doses.  I’ve gotten other recommendations that I’ll read somewhere along the way, but for now, it’s back to nonfiction for me for a while as well as writing Nicki.

And that’s what I’m getting ready to do right now…start writing Blind so I can get it done by the date I promised!

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